The state-owned Maldivian tourism promotion company has hired a top-earning US lobbying firm amid growing international condemnation of a continuing state of emergency.
Ballard Partners, led by a Republican fundraiser with ties to President Donald Trump, will provide “strategic consulting and advocacy services”, according to the registration statement filed with the US Department of Justice.
MMPRC managing director Haris Mohamed signed the US$50,000 a month, one-year agreement on February 11, days after President Abdulla Yameen declared the state of emergency in response to a Supreme Court order for the release and retrial of political prisoners.
Omnia Strategy, a London-based legal and public relations firm chaired by Cherie Blair, came under fire in February 2016 when the UK’s Daily Mail alleged that it was paid £210,000 from stolen funds.
“Despite being elected in 2013 with the support of a broad coalition, President Yameen has systematically alienated his coalition, jailed or exiled every major opposition political figure, deprived elected Members of Parliament of their right to represent their voters in the legislature, revised laws to erode human rights, especially freedom of expression, and weakened the institutions of government by firing any officials who refuse orders that run contrary to Maldivian law and its Constitution,” the US State Department said after the state of emergency was declared on February 5.